With summer just around the corner, the chances of sun-damage to our skin become increasingly high. Yet as HEALTH discovers, there is a wealth of information and cutting edge treatments that can keep your skin protected and flawless despite the heat of the summer sun.
From UV sun blocks to the latest BB creams that claim to protect us from the sun and do much more, is it any wonder that most of us are confused about the latest products and treatments out there? Dr. Irene Nirmala Thomas, Specialist Dermatologist and Clinical Professor at GMC Hospital in Ajman explains that from simple, basic skin care, the recent trend these days has been to look good and presentable whatever your age may be; in fact, anti-aging is the new buzz word. “Anti-aging awareness has started from women in their twenties whereas before, anti-aging implied the late thirties and forties,” she says, and as the quality of life and longevity is increasing – in parallel, anti-aging therapies are becoming increasingly more acceptable and their demand is increasing.
Additionally, Dr. Thomas adds that both pharmaceuticals and cosmetics have merged to spawn cosmeceuticals that promise to keep the skin looking young and smooth. Some of these, she adds, include Hyaluronic acid, collagen, peptides, and vitamin C, available as nanoceuticals. “Even men have jumped the bandwagon and are increasingly buying into anti-aging trends driven by the desire to look younger,” says Dr. Thomas. Furthermore, CEO of Biolite Aesthetic Clinic, Mona Syed-Mirza says that skincare has changed drastically in recent years. “Skincare products have become very scientific with an emphasis on the ingredients and quality,” she says.
Busy lifestyles have no place for surgical face lifts with extensive downtime, tells Dr. Thomas, therefore minimally invasive facial rejuvenation that require little down time are performed as office procedures and are the latest trend in anti-aging. “These include Botox, dermal fillers, dermabrasion, microneedling, mesotherapy and Platelet Rich Plasma therapy or PRP,” she says. “These are the many treatments in our clinic for skin care and anti-aging, classified under the 4 R’s.” This includes: Resurfacing with the use of lasers, micro-needling, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion. Retaining is the use of skin care in conjunction with cosmeceuticals and/ or mesotherapy. Relaxing is treating facial wrinkles due to hyper-dynamic facial muscles, for example using Botox. And finally Refilling is for restoring volume in the face using dermal fillers such as Hyaluronic acid. According to Dr. Thomas, multiple sessions and combined modalities may be necessary as the dermatologist is responsible in selecting the most appropriate intervention based on the patient’s needs, concerns and realistic expectations. And though the basics in skincare remain the same, Natasha Bennett, Operations Director and Laser specialist at Dermalase Clinic adds that just in the past few years even, the science, research and delivery of skin care has advanced rapidly. “Treatments are much more affordable and readily available as well now also skin care has advanced,” she says.
Factors That Affect Skin
According to Jelena Jovanovic, Skin Care and Laser specialist at Wellbeing Medical Centre, some of the factors that affect our skin include: environmental pollution, which can actually affect our skin similarly to smoking. Also dust and dirt can clog the pores as there are various chemical pollutants in the environment that even in small amounts can contribute to skin aging. “Also in warmer and hot climates like UAE, increased heat and humidity can cause our skin to sweat, leaving it more prone to breakouts, especially if the skin is oily,” she explains and this heat can also lead to other skin problems.
The most important thing that has a tremendous effect on our skin, tells Dr. Shadan Naji, Dermatologist and Aesthetic Medicine Doctor at Obagi Medi Spa in Dubai and in Al Ain, is the amount of our exposure to the sun. He elaborates, “It is well known that the ultraviolet radiation in the solar spectrum causes skin aging and can induce several medical problems such as pigmentation and even skin cancer. We should always consider that we are exposed to a huge amount of sun radiation since we are children and this will have a cumulative effect on our skin later on in our life.” This, he adds, is the reason why dermatologists always focus on the importance of a sun protective life style which includes avoiding mid-day sun, wearing protective clothing and using a sunscreen that provides protection from both UVA and UVB.
Maintaining Our Skin
As a dermatologist, Dr. Naji emphasizes protecting our skin from the sun by applying a sun protection that provides protection from both UVA and UVB and that is suitable for our skin type. “The sunscreen should be put on a daily basis 20 minutes before going out and should be repeated every two to three hours,” he says, in addition, the regular use of moisturizer is very important as it nourishes the skin and makes it keep its hydra balance. Further adding, Jovanovic explains that extended exposure to sunlight is one of the major causes of blemishes, rosacea, wrinkles and premature aging, so wearing a high SPF sunscreen is very important.
Fast Forward Ageing
From thin and crêpey skin to lines and wrinkles, sun exposure, tells Mirza, causes most of the skin changes that we think of as a normal part of aging. “Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin,” she says and basically when these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. The skin also bruises and tears more easily — taking longer to heal. So while sun damage to the skin may not be apparent when you’re young, Mirza indicates that it will definitely show later in life.
Specific Treatments Recommended for Sun Damaged Skin
There is a gamut of cutting edge treatments out there specifically aimed at rectifying the damaging effects of the sun. Mirza elaborates that one of her favorites for sun damage and skin brightening is Dermasweep which features a closed system with a variable level vacuum pump that gently lifts the skin surface as the device “sweeps away” the dead layer of skin in a precise and controlled manner. “The results are the skin is left smoother as the vacuum action of the wand stimulates blood flow and cleans the pores and removes the dead skin,” she says and this increased blood flow encourages collagen formation thus firming and toning the epidermis resulting in brighter, firmer skin. “Simultaneously, using the Epi-Infusion option, in this case vitamin C, can be directly applied to the skin, leaving the client with fresher-feeling and brighter looking skin.”
2. Obagi Blue Peel
Dr. Naji recommends the Obagi Blue Peel, a type of TCA peel, in a unique preparation that enables more control in terms of the depth of the peel. “We use this treatment for many medical conditions such as treating melasma, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, acne, as well as to treat photo-aging and wrinkles,” he says and the aim of this technique is to exfoliate the outer layer of the skin and encourage cellular turnover ending resulting in a new fresh layer of the skin that is disease free. “We always start this treatment by preparing the patient by using a topical cream prior to the peel for around 10 to 12 weeks and then we give a treatment to the patient after the peel for maintenance,” he says, the patient must avoid the sun during the couple of weeks after the treatment. Usually the patient sees a difference after the first session but the number of sessions and the full treatment length depend on the skin condition.
3. Diamond Microdermabrasion
According to Jovanovic, this treatment smoothens fine lines, wrinkles, scarring, sunspots, stretch marks, pigmentation problems and other blemishes, restoring a youthful and radiant look. “Diamond microdermabrasion is performed using a diamond-tipped wand for skin exfoliation and the diamond wand can be used around the eyes and the mouth area where the first wrinkles and lines usually appear.” This tube propels fine microdiamonds across the skin, gently pummeling away the upper layer of skin cells, which are then vacuumed away. An average treatment can be completed within half an hour. The process of exfoliation encourages growth of new collagen, which helps your skin to retain its elasticity and retain vital moisture for fresher, younger-looking skin.
4. AFT by Alma Lasers
According to Bennett, the Harmony skin rejuvenation system by Alma lasers also known as AFT, is highly effective in treating sun damaged, prematurely aged skin as well as those with vascular lesions and rosacea. “Studies have shown that collagen is stimulated and texture greatly improved,” she says and a study conducted demonstrated that people who had regular treatments over 10 years had better quality skin than when they were 10 years younger. She explains that the treatment is safe, painless and highly effective at strengthening and supporting the skin. “The treatment gives an instant glow and is one of our best-selling procedures,” Bennett explains.